50+ Incredible Dragon Tattoo Ideas

By Jason Hamilton / June 2, 2018
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Dragons are some of the most powerful mythical creatures imagined by man. They have the ability to fly and breathe fire. Their roars have filled the horrific imaginations of man. They are indeed a creature of nightmares. Despite this terrorizing image, our ancestors have implanted to their offspring, and in extension, to us, we are still fascinated by them and their abilities. This is clearly evident in our media today wherein dragons almost always have a major role in fantasy. From this obsession, we have with these powerful mythical creatures, the body art industry, alongside the tattoo community, made a design that paid homage to the flying fire-breathing creature; dragon tattoo designs.

In this article, we will be giving you a rich and vibrant gallery of dragon tattoo ideas that you will definitely love. We will also be sharing with you our knowledge of the tattoo design such as the meaning it holds, the various designs you can do with it, the perfect body placement, and a background on how and why the industry decided to have dragon tattoo designs.

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What Is A Dragon?

A dragon is a large, serpent-like legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures around the world. Beliefs about dragons vary drastically by region, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence.

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Dragons In Numerous Cultures

The dragon’s major appearance in society would probably, if not undoubtedly, be in Chinese Society where it plays a big role in shaping the everyday lives of billions of Chinese until in today’s time. the mythical creature is one of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. This means that hundreds of millions of people are following the traits of a dragon in their lives. Dragons in Chinese society is seen as very auspicious and lucky. They are magical beings that can cause weather changes and summon rain. Because Chinese society was founded on agriculture that thrived during the wet season, Chinese dragons were seen as deities and were worshiped.

In western culture, on the other hand, this powerful mythical creature is more often seen as evil and malevolent creatures. In fairy tales, for example, dragons are often guarding a princess or maiden and have to be slain by a heroic rescuer, serving as a testament to the slayer’s bravery.

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Dragons In Popular Culture

At the advent of the twenty-first century, the image of the dragon as an evil and vindictive mythical creature slowly fades away and society became more and more curious and forgiving to dragons.

The first to show this alternative image of the powerful fire-breathing creature on the silver screen was Shrek. Though still seen as a guard to a princess at first, the dragon is then revealed to be in love with Donkey, the sidekick of Shrek. From this mellowing image of the dragon, others follow suit and as the decade progresses.

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In the gaming industry, Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are the biggest names in the dragon game genre. In Skyrim, dragons are depicted to be both evil and good and that dragons are highly intelligent beings that can speak the common tongue of humans.

In the Harry Potter series, specifically, the fourth installment named Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, dragons are heavily featured as this brute fire-breathing creature. The dragons are presented as the first challenge for the Tri-wizard Tournament wherein the creature guards a golden egg that the challenger must get. In this series, the dragon is perceived to be just a general classification of magical creatures as it revealed that numerous species of dragons are present in the world.

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One of the most famous animated film series in recent memory have dragons as their main subject. How To Train Your Dragon presents the evolution of the human-dragon relationship from enemies into companions. The dragons are often depicted with dog-like social attributes.

The most famous reference on dragons at this day and age would undoubtedly be Game of Thrones. This series features three powerful dragons and these dragons have been the subject of numerous terrorizing tales within the Game of Thrones Universe. Despite these tales, the show also aims to showcase these dragon’s other side by caring and showing affection to their mother, Daenerys.

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These are just some of the numerous appearances of dragons in recent popular culture. It is quite expected that a lot will still pop up in the years to come with a softer image in each appearance.

Different Dragon Tattoo Designs

Since the dragon has been present in numerous cultures, various interpretation of the design also sprung up offering a variety of dragon tattoo designs. From the east to the west, each civilization offers a unique look to the mythical fire-breathing flying creature. Here are some of the designs that sparked our interest:

The Chinese Dragon

The Chinese dragon is a flying mythical creature that is often the object of numerous Chinese and East Asian folklore and mythology. They are often depicted as a snake-like creature with four legs. They traditionally symbolize auspiciousness and good luck. During the days of Imperial China, the Emperor of China usually used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength.

This creature has been the inspiration for the dragons present in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra since these animated series are based on Asian Mythology.

Here are some tattoo designs we saw on the internet that heavily features the Chinese Dragon:

1. A sternum tattoo of a Chinese dragon.

2. A colorful and intricate sleeve and chest tattoo of a blue Chinese dragon.

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3. A sleeve tattoo of a Chinese dragon.

4. A sleeve tattoo of a green Chinese dragon clawing its way out of the skin.

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5. A highly intricate and colorful side tattoo of a Chinese dragon.

6. A vibrant shoulder tattoo of a blue and green Chinese dragon.

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7. A large and extremely detailed full back tattoo of a Chinese dragon holding a sphere.

8. Another intricate full back tattoo of a Chinese dragon.

9. Another extremely detailed full back tattoo of a Chinese dragon.

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10. A large chest and abdominal tattoo of a Chinese dragon with yellow and red detailing.

The European Dragon

European dragons are legendary creatures in folklore and mythology among the overlapping cultures of Europe.

In today’s modern age, this dragon design is typically portrayed as a large, fire-breathing, scaly, horned, lizard-like creature that gas leathery bat-like wings and four legs. They can sometimes even be depicted with multiple heads.

This dragon design has been the basis for numerous dragons in popular culture. This has been the inspiration for the Game of Thrones, How to Train a Dragon, and Harry Potter dragons since they are all conceived and made by a western group of people.

Here are some of the best European Dragon Tattoo Designs We saw on the internet:

  1. A highly detiled sleeve tattoo of a girl with a calm European dragon.
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2. Another sleeve tattoo of a European Dragon standing up.

3. A sketch-like sleeeve tattoo of an intricately designed European Dragon head.

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4. A sleeve tattoo of a blue European dragon with its tail wrapping around the arm.

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5. A large side tattoo of a European dragon as if climbing the body and with red detailing.

6. An upper back tattoo of a purple and green dragon.

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7. A full back tattoo of a European dragon.

8. A 3d back tattoo of a European dragon.

9. Another 3d back tattoo of a European dragon.

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10. An upper left back tattoo of a blue and red European dragon.

The Piasa (Native American Dragon)

The Piasa is the Native Americans’ version of a dragon. This mythical creature has been depicted in one of two murals planted by Native Americans on cliffsides along the Mississippi River. Although the original Paisa illustration no longer exists, a new rendition was made in the 20th century which were based on 19th-century sketches and lithographs.

This particular mythical creature depicts a dragon as a bird-like creature much like the Phoenix but instead of feathers, the skin instead has scales.

The Meaning Of A Dragon Tattoo

A lot of meaning can be attributed to a dragon tattoo. Since this mythical creature is present in almost all of the civilizations in one form or another, the exact meaning of dragon tattoos cannot be determined as it is based on the culture of the tattoo artist and the tattoo enthusiast grew up in. Though there is no exact definition, the east and west sides of the world have a somewhat generally accepted interpretation.

In the East, specifically in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and other Asian countries, they could absolutely agree that a dragon tattoo means good luck and prosperity. This meaning was derived from the Chinese and since China has exerted a large sphere of cultural influence in the region for numerous centuries, this meaning of a dragon tattoo has also spread in other Asian countries surrounding China. This definition was also carried to other nations and regions with a significant Chinese diaspora population such as The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the US West Coast.

In the West, especially in Central and Western Europe, the dragon is perceived as a symbol of power, might, and glory. Since the middle ages, royal houses and countries have used the dragon as one of the symbols that decorated their heraldry. Countless coat-of-arms or emblems are filled with an image of a dragon because of the West’s perception of the mythical creature. Considering the historical use of the mythical creature, it will come as no surprise that the Western Tattoo Community also has the same meaning as its usage in western heraldry.

From these two regions and the mixing of cultures and races in our globalized world, the meaning of a dragon tattoo changes.

Men and Dragon Tattoo Designs

Generally speaking, the dragon tattoo is considered as a masculine design. Westerners, especially, always perceive this tattoo as a symbol of a man’s power and stature. The same can also be said in the East, specifically, in China and Japan, where the design is quite famous for Yakuza and Triad members. Although the notoriety of the design is slowly mellowing away with the times, dragon tattoos are still heavily thought of as masculine in nature.

Here are some of the tattoo designs we saw on the internet:

1. A shoulder and upper sleeve tattoo of a dragon with its head on the right pectoral part of the chest.

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2. A sleeve tattoo of a Chinese dragon.

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3. A sleeve tattoo of a Chinese dragon in tribal detailing.

4. A large intricately designed sleeve and chest tattoo of a Chinese dragon.

5. A sleeve tattoo of a European dragon.

6. A beautiful sleeve tattoo of a dragon in tribal detail.

7. A sleeve and side tattoo of dragons in tribal form.

8. A side tattoo of a tribal dragon.

9. A shoulder tattoo of a long Chinese Dragon.

10. A full sleeve tattoo of a highly intricate Chinese Dragon.

11. A large back tattoo of a European Dragon and two small Chinese dragons.

12. An abdominal tattoo of an outline of a Chinese dragon.

13. A chest and abdominal tattoo of a Chinse dragon in paint brush stroke detail.

14. A large back tattoo of a European dragon.

15. A chest tattoo of the head of a Chinese Dragon.

Women And Dragon Tattoos

Like we have said earlier, this specific tattoo design is generally perceived as masculine in nature. Though this is the perception of many, since its the 21st century, the era of gender equality, more and more women desire to have dragon tattoos be inked on their skin as a symbol that they are equal to men. The number of women who gets dragon tattoos is increasing annually but this tattoo design is still dominated by men. Despite the number of men against women, there are still a lot of designs out there that will heavily favor women as its host.

Here are some of the dragon tattoo designs we saw on the internet that we personally think is also perfect for women:

1. A large thigh tattoo of a purple Chinese dragon.

2. A shoulder tattoo of a purple European Dragon.

3. A side tattoo of a European dragon embellished with flowers and branches.

4. A leg tattoo of a cyan Chinese dragon.

5.  A colorful back tattoo of a blue green Chinese dragon with red embellishment.

6. A back tattoo of a long and slender Chinese dragon.

7. A colorful and vibrant back tattoo of a Chinese dragon with flowers.

8. A small upper back tattoo of a blue and red European dragons forming a heart.

9. A green Chinse dragon tattoo with purple flowers and thorns inked on the back.

10. A back tattoo of a Native American dragon.

11. A large full back tattoo of a Chinese dragon in tribal detail.

12. A back tattoo of a long-tailed European dragon.

13. A large and colorful red Chinese dragon tattoo on the back.

14. A medium-sized European dragon tattoo in flight which is inked on the back.

15. A tribal tattoo on the back in a shape of a dragon with pink flowers.

Where Can I Place A Dragon Tattoo?

There are numerous places on your body where you can ink a dragon tattoo and it really goes down to the dragon tattoo design you picked.

If you picked a Chinese Dragon, the long snake-like dragon, you can virtually place it anywhere you want and bend the design in any way you desire. Although this is the case for this tattoo design, We suggest you place it on common areas where you can usually find a dragon tattoo if you are not that creative in thinking of places to ink it. We suggest you have it on your sleeves, back, and thigh areas of the body for maximum visual effect.

If you picked a European Dragon, however, this design is much more rigid than the Chinese variant since the design is not based on a snake-like figure. The body parts where it can host a European Dragon is usually the chest and back area. The sleeves and thighs can also have one but its much harder to ink since the design must wrap around the circumference of the arm.


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About the author

Jason Hamilton

Jason has been an avid fan of tattoos for over 13 years now. He is currently 35 years old, and he got his first tattoo at the age of 22. Since then, he has added over 20 tattoos to his collection. He is also into writing, which is why he decided to celebrate both of his passion and hobby through tats ‘n’ rings. Jason dreams of having his very own tattoo parlor soon. Jason would be very happy to answer any questions about tattoos that you may have! Leave a comment below and he’ll answer it for you right away!

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